GOP, Democrats Exchange Web Ads, Attacks in Governor's Race

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 14, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

The Florida gubernatorial contest turned to the economy and candidate consistency this week as Republicans and Democrats alike launched new Web ads.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) came out swinging at former Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday, hitting the newly minted Democrat for changing positions on the embargo with Cuba. Crist, a former Republican who is now the Democratic front-runner to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November, had been a supporter of the embargo of that communist nation but now is against it.

“Charlie Crist’s ‘epic’ Cuba flip-flop is just the latest in a string of self-serving position reversals from Florida’s Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat candidate for governor," said Gail Gitcho, a spokeswoman for the RGA on Tuesday. “During his time in Florida politics, Crist has changed his stance on nearly everything from Obamacare to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants to raising taxes. Crist’s history as a flip-flopper leaves Florida voters asking the question: What ‘politically expedient’ position change will he embrace next?"

While the RGA hit Crist on Cuba on Tuesday, the Florida Democratic Party fired back with a Web video insisting Scott has shifted his promises on the numbers of jobs he would help create.

“Rick Scott is campaigning for re-election across Florida, telling Floridians he’s on their side. But all Floridians see is a weak economy, thousands of people still looking for work, and a governor who has always put the wealthiest special interests first,” the Florida Democratic Party insisted on Tuesday. “The truth is, Rick Scott has broken his promises to Floridians. When Rick Scott campaigned for governor in 2010 he promised to create 700,000 jobs on top of normal growth, for a total of 1.7 million new jobs. But Scott has repeatedly moved the goal posts, misleading Floridians about his campaign's central promise. But Rick Scott can’t even deliver on that: just 4 percent of the jobs Rick Scott takes credit for have actually been created.”

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But the Republicans relied on a Web video of their own this week. With Monday marking the fifth anniversary of then-Gov. Crist launching a bid for the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a Web ad accusing him of trying to leave Tallahassee during tough economic times. Crist was the favorite in the Senate race but he was caught by Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. Crist left the GOP and continued his bid for the Senate with no party affiliation, finishing a distant second to Rubio in the general election and joined the Democrats in December 2012.

“Five years ago, Charlie Crist abandoned Floridians, leaving behind the mess that he created in Tallahassee to run away to Washington,” said Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the RPOF on Monday. “Crist did not have an answer to Democrats and Republicans alike who questioned his record of economic failure, which resulted in a losing campaign then and will result in a losing campaign this November.”

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The RPOF wasn’t alone in firing away at Crist for changing his positions. Noting that Crist was named both the “winner” and “loser” of the week in the Tampa Bay Times over the weekend, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, who is an underdog against the former Republican in the Democratic primary, took a shot at Crist on Monday.

"Charlie Crist is on both sides of everything -- even winner/loser of the week,” Rich insisted.


Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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